Leonard Contento passed away peacefully on January 22, 2014 at home surrounded by family. He was 95 years old.
Leonard was born on December 23, 1918 in Cortland, New York, the son of Gaetano and Pasqua Panaro Contento.
He started working at the family farm on Cold Brook Road at the age of 10, attending the Cold Brook one-room schoolhouse until 8th grade.
While attending Homer High School, Leonard lived at the home of Lena Durkee and was her chauffeur for several years. He graduated from Morrisville Agricultural and Technical Institute (now Morrisville State College) in 1940, where he studied auto mechanics.
Leonard worked at Durkee Bakery in Cortland before entering the army in March of 1941. He served as a medical technician based in Hawaii and took part in the invasions of Kwajalein and Eniwetok Atolls in the Marshall Islands.
Upon his return in 1945 he opened Leonard's Coffee Shop in Homer then married Ruth Weddle on June 29, 1946. The two ran the coffee shop for 19 years. Leonard was later employed as a Homer school bus driver, a manager at Carrols Restaurant, a driver for Maxson International, and a custodian at SUNY Cortland. He retired in 1985. He was a communicant of Homer United Methodist Church.
Leonard ran a bicycle repair shop from his home for several decades, and continued to actively collect and repair bikes until shortly before his death.
Leonard was a member of the Homer Fire Department for 64 years, serving as captain of Hose 2 for one year, captain of Fire Police for 47 years, and a board member for two terms. He was Fireman of the Year in 1997 and received the Patrick Helms Award in 2007. He was also a member of the Homer American Legion, Masonic Lodge, and Homer Lions Club.
Leonard is survived by his wife of 67 years, Ruth Weddle Contento; children William (Eileen) Contento of Livermore, CA, Cherie (Stephen) Major, and James (Brenda) Contento; grandchildren Matthew Murphy, Nicki Contento, Jaime Murphy, Jason Contento, Elizabeth Murphy, Katie Sibbald, Theresa VanBuskirk, Christina Major, Cory Contento and Laura Major, three great grandchildren, sister Anna Hobart, and brothers Frank and Dominick.
Leonard was predeceased by a sister Theresa Doyle and brothers Victor, Gerald, and John.
Calling hours will be held from 2:00-5:00 pm on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at the Donald L. Barber Funeral Home, 5016 N. Main St., Homer.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am on Monday, January 27, 2014 at the Homer United Methodist Church, 16 Cayuga St., Homer, with Pastor Rachel Morse officiating.
A luncheon will follow at the Paul Hill Community Building behind Homer fire station.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mr. Contento’s memory may be directed to the Homer Fire Department, PO Box 58, Homer, NY 13077.